Mandela gets married on 80th birthday
Web posted at: 12:34 p.m. EDT (1634 GMT)
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CNN) -- President Nelson Mandela married 52-year-old companion Graca Machel from Mozambique at a private ceremony on Saturday -- the same day he celebrated his 80th birthday.
Deputy President Thabo Mbeki announced that Mandela and Machel, the widow of Mozambican President Samora Machel, were married in a civil ceremony at the president's private home in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton.
Mbeki made the announcement in Pretoria, saying that the couple had been married by the chief magistrate of Johannesburg.
Mandela -- who is divorced from his former wife Winnie -- and Machel went public with their relationship last year.
Machel, described as one of the most influential people in Mozambique, is a lawyer and international campaigner for children's rights. The couple met in 1990 shortly after Mandela was released from prison.
They had previously denied rumors they planned to wed, even after Archbishop Desmond Tutu publicly but light-heartedly chastised them, saying they were setting a bad example for young people.
The announcement came as Mandela celebrated his birthday quietly with his family in the sandstone house first used by the apartheid rulers who jailed him for 27 years.
Mandela received a number of friends bringing gifts and food to MahlambaNdlopfu, the official presidential residence overlooking Pretoria.
Amina Cachalia, who fought apartheid with Mandela before he was jailed in 1962, led a delegation of Indian women taking him a giant curry.
"It was just so wonderful," she said in an interview afterwards. "He was in wonderful spirits and he spent so much time with the children."
Cachalia was among a handful of old friends allowed, mostly in the company of many children, to pay respects to Mandela on what he told her was "a very precious, private day."
Others included South African filmmaker Anant Singh who took Mandela a bottle of the hair oil he liked to use while jailed on Robben Island in Cape Town's Table Bay.
MahlambaNdlopfu, which in the Tsonga language means the place where the elephant bathes, was the official residence of South Africa's apartheid presidents.
Mandela, who spent 27 years in jail for fighting apartheid, gave it the name after he slept there on May 10, 1994, following his inauguration as the country's first black president.
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